A 17-year-old from the Sunshine Coast is making some big plans for the year ahead. He and his Chamberlain 9G tractor are set to embark on a 13,500km journey across Australia in a mammoth fundraising effort for three charities: Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial, the Royal Flying Doctors Service and Dolly’s Dream.
Currently in Year 12, Sam Hughes has been busy getting his tractor ready for the road.
“I’ve been tinkering around with it on the weekends,” explains Hughes.
“It’s just two more months until I can get my licence. I bought the tractor a few months ago. It belonged to an old fella who recently passed away. It was mostly in running order, but I had to do a fair bit of electrics to it, add indicators, horns, brake pipes and all of that to make it safe for the road. There are a few little modifications – I’ve updated the diff so it does 50km/h instead of 40km/h and I’ve added a turbo-charger so it goes a little better.”
Despite his young age, Hughes certainly has his finger on the pulse, with his own hobby business where he buys and sells machinery and small trucks – a venture sparked after he made his first tractor purchase when he was just 13.
He bought it for $1000, but as his mother was worried about the dangers of the machine, he sold it shortly after for $3000. At that point, he knew he was onto something.
Now Hughes is hoping to give back to some of the charities he holds dear, with the Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial among these.
It was set up to honour those who have made a significant contribution to the Australian transport industry and have sadly lost their lives before their time – whether it be a truck or work-related accident or by other means.
“My family uses a lot of trucks, so I know a lot of people who are truckies. A lot of my best mates are truckies and whenever I can, I’ll go on runs with them.
“I love the trucking industry and have a huge respect for those in the industry – the long hours they work and everything they do for us. A lot of people don’t fully understand the sacrifices they make. I knew a few truck drivers who have lost their lives on the road. I thought reaching out to the Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial would be a great way to pay them back for all of the work they do.”
For the voyage, Hughes’ Chamberlain 9G tractor will be used to tow a 6.5 metre trailer, which is currently being built based on his own designs.
The trailer will carry a Suzuki Sierra (just in case anything goes wrong) and a plane mounted on its roof, which will be painted in the Royal Flying Doctors Service colours. Hughes is currently also looking for sponsors to assist with the trip.
If all goes to plan, Hughes is hoping to depart from his hometown of Maleny in February, stopping in every major town along his way, including all major Royal Flying Doctor bases. To ensure he doesn’t get in the way of truck drivers’ day to day operations, his chosen route will avoid major highways and busy roads. He is hoping that the borders that have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions will be reopened by his scheduled departure “but if borders are still closed by then, I’ll have to change it to a Queensland run instead,” he says.
You can follow Hughes’ journey on his Facebook page, The Travelling Jackaroo.